Pat Gorgas came to visit early in the Covid days. We sat on my porch, social distancing as she described the project she wanted me to do. A commission of the late Toller Cranston – Canadian national figure skating champion from 1971-1976, and the 1974 World bronze medal and the 1976 Olympic bronze medal winner. Although I knew of Toller Cranston, I learned so much more about him as I started working on this commission. The Globe and Mail referred to him as “He is his own work of art.” He was fearless in expression, courageous in creativity, and innovative in interpretation. Toller had a determination, dedication and a desire to go where no figure skater had gone before. Renowned for his artistry, Toller Cranston brought freedom of expression to the sport and was acclaimed as the most influential figure skater of the 20th century. Toller revolutionized figure skating. He took the sport to new heights. He inspired generations.
He was not only an artist on the ice. His paintings—colourful, flamboyant and intricate—continue to be sought by collectors all over the world. He became a legend.
For my client, Toller Cranston represents more than just a legendary figure skater. His world was her world too. Originally from Toronto, Pat, a figure skater, met her husband Arnim at the Michael Kirby Ice Skating School. They both performed in the Minto Skating Club’s Minto Follies for several years, and eventually in some of the same shows as Toller Cranston. She recounted stories of Toller’s dramatic entrances and flamboyant style. This commission is an homage to both a great man and to the life she and her husband enjoyed for so many years and the people they met in the figure skating world.